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1-13-2022 Proposed Health Plan

1-18-2022 Proposed Health Plan
Posted on 01/20/2022
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Garnet Valley School District Proposed Health and Safety Plan 2021-22 Academic Year

Initial Effective Date: July 30, 2021, updated August 15, 2021 and January 18, 2022.

1-13-22-proposed-health-and-safety-plan

Update:

1-20-2022
Dear School Community,

Last evening the Board voted unanimously to reauthorize the district's Health and Safety Plan. This draft can be found on our Health & Safety website. Once it is officially signed, the formal document will take its place. The plan is written with the intention of providing the district flexibility as it navigates yet another phase of the pandemic. However, there is indication that the recent surge has not only plateaued but is starting to decrease in Delaware County and throughout the district. For example, today’s CDC covid tracker data shows that transmission rates in our county are at 1421 cases per 100K. Just last week, transmission was just over 1721 cases per 100K. Although it is too early to predict this week’s trend from a district perspective, as we stated in our last email, we went from 120 cases the first week after winter break to 60 cases last week. 

Although our schools will continue to update their individual communities regarding our health mitigation strategies and our slow but steady turn toward normal, we wanted to highlight a few of them today. They are as follows: 

  • Masking–Indoor masking will be required at schools and school activities while the county is in high transmission. Masks will be required on all district transportation as long as the federal mandate stays in place. The plan, however, gives the Board flexibility to make changes when the county is out of high transmission levels. Should the district receive data from the newly formed Delaware County Health Department that provides more localized snapshots, we may be able to make decisions more specific to Garnet Valley.

  • Communication–All positive and probable case information can be found on our district dashboard by clicking here. In addition to this information, you can find a copy of our newly updated Parent Packet, and other important information regarding our Health and Safety efforts, on our district website. Moving forward, we will no longer send daily emails regarding positive cases. Close contacts will continue to receive direct communication from their principals and school nurses.

  • Contact Tracing–We will move to a targeted contact tracing approach while our county is in high transmission. This approach will use contact tracing for in-school close contacts of symptomatic individuals in larger congregate settings where individuals are unmasked and where less than six feet of distancing can be achieved (e.g., cafeteria, auditorium, or gymnasium) rather than in our classrooms and on buses. When our county moves to a substantial level of transmission for two weeks, our schools will forgo all contact tracing efforts.

  • Isolation–Our schools will support the recent CDC guidance whereby children and adults who are COVID-19 positive can return to school 5 days after symptom onset (or date of test positivity if they have no symptoms) provided they are asymptomatic or have resolving symptoms (including resolution of fever). We will stress the importance of continuing to wear a mask at all times for 5 additional days. With this strategy, our schools will not require individuals to get a COVID-19 test to return to school.

  • Non-Household Close Contacts–Staff and students who are close contacts with other individuals who have COVID 19, and are not a household member, may remain in school if they are asymptomatic regardless of vaccination status. They will be required to conduct daily symptom screenings and may take advantage of the district’s test-to-stay program. If at any time the individual has any respiratory symptoms, it will be requested that the person get a COVID-19 test and stay home until the testing outcome is known. It will also be recommended for the individual to test between days 5 and 7 after exposure based on personal or family risks.

  • Household Close Contacts–Staff and students, who are close contacts with individuals from the same household and have received the primary series of Pfizer, Moderna, or the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, will be able to remain in school and will be prioritized for the Test-to-Stay program. If at any time the individual tests positive or develops symptoms of COVID 19, the individual will need to isolate at home. A list of these symptoms can be found in our Parent Packet. Staff and students who are close contacts with individuals from the same household but have not received the primary series of Pfizer, Moderna, or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will need to utilize our Test-to-Stay program in order to remain in school.

As always, thank you for your support and cooperation in keeping our schools open for in-person learning!

Sincerely,


Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent


1-12-2022

Dear School Community,

Although the burden of the omicron variant continues to create complexities for the district, we remain committed to in-person, five-day-a-week learning for our students. I am encouraged to report that our priority is also shared by CHOP and other medical experts throughout the region. 

Our doctors from CHOP and Penn continue as the county superintendents’ greatest resource. With Delaware County’s health department not yet active and no further guidance from the PA DOH, these individuals help us interpret the changing CDC guidelines as well as assist us with making important decisions for our districts. To this end, last week CHOP and its PolicyLab socialized the belief that although the omicron variant has an increased ability to infect both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, it appears to be less severe than previous variants. So, what does this mean moving forward? To answer this question, I think it’s important to refer directly to CHOP PolicyLab’s blog, which offers this direction:

Throughout this pandemic, schools (and particularly the students) have been asked to shoulder a significant burden as high-risk sites for transmission to allow time for community members to receive vaccinations and avert the risk of severe disease. Now that all within K-12 school communities have been offered vaccination, the competing risks to children of education loss from prolonged school closures alongside social isolation are far more concerning than COVID-19 itself. Furthermore, while it is too soon to conclude that COVID-19 has become an endemic seasonal virus like influenza, RSV, or other viruses we typically encounter at CHOP, the declining virulence makes us hopeful that we are rapidly shifting in that direction, particularly for vaccinated individuals. Finally, with limited access to testing and schools overwhelmed with contact tracing and required testing solutions that are no longer feasible or sustainable, the time has come to pivot towards solutions that prioritize normalization of in-school education alongside practical safety measures that can manage the worst of this resurgence”(CHOP PolicyLab Blog CLICK HERE). 

As a result of the recommendation of the CHOP PolicyLab in conjunction with the advice of our doctors, Garnet Valley will make some adjustments to its practices and to its health and safety plan. They are as follows:

 

What remains the same?

  • Masking: Indoor masking will be required at schools and school activities while the county is in high transmission. Masks will be required on all district transportation as long as the federal mandate stays in place.

  • Symptomatic Individuals: Students and staff must isolate themselves at home when symptomatic with any respiratory illness.

  • Testing: The District will offer staff and students voluntary participation in Project ACE-IT, our COVID-19 testing program, when Delaware County is in high transmission (provided there are sufficient testing materials). Testing through the District requires that parents have a completed consent form on file in our Family ID system. If you haven’t already done so, please click HERE to complete your family’s registration in Family ID.

  • Vaccination: The district will not mandate vaccinations in the absence of a governmental mandate. However, our schools will continue to encourage all staff and students to get the COVID-19 vaccination and all eligible individuals to receive COVID-19 booster vaccinations.

What’s changing?

  • Contact tracing: The district will be taking a twofold approach to contact tracing. Based on the widespread transmission of COVID-19 in our communities, the feasibility of contract tracing is unsustainable. Therefore we will move to a targeted contact tracing approach while our county is in high transmission. This approach will encompass only contact tracing for in-school close contacts of symptomatic individuals in larger congregate settings where individuals are unmasked and where less than six feet of distancing can be achieved (e.g., cafeteria, auditorium, or gymnasium) rather than in our classrooms and on buses. When our county moves to a substantial level of transmission for two weeks, our schools will forgo all contact tracing efforts.

  • Isolation: Our schools will support the recent CDC guidance whereby children and adults who are COVID-19 positive can return to school 5 days after symptom onset (or date of test positivity if they have no symptoms) provided they are asymptomatic or have resolving symptoms (including resolution of fever). We will stress the importance of continuing to wear a mask at all times for 5 additional days. With this strategy, our schools will not require individuals to get a COVID-19 test to return to school.

  • Management of Close Contacts: Non-Household Close Contact-Staff and students who are close contacts with other individuals who have COVID 19, and are not a household member, may remain in school and work if they are asymptomatic regardless of vaccination status. They will be required to conduct daily symptom screenings. If at any time the individual has any respiratory symptoms, it will be requested that the person get a COVID-19 test and stay home until the testing outcome is known. It will also be recommended for an individual to test between days 5 and 7 after exposure based on personal or family risks.

  • Household Close Contacts-Staff and students, who are close contacts with individuals from the same household and have received the primary series of Pfizer, Moderna or the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, will be able to remain in school and will be prioritized for the Test-to-Stay program. If at any time the individual tests positive or has any respiratory symptoms, the individual will be requested to isolate at home. Staff and students who are close contacts with individuals from the same household but have not received the primary series of Pfizer, Moderna, or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will need to utilize our Test-to-Stay program in order to remain in school.

  • Communication: After running analytics on the daily positive case emails that our building administrators send, we found a low level of engagement and a high rate of deletion. All of the information provided in the daily emails can also be found on our district dashboard found here . Moving forward, we will no longer send daily emails regarding positive cases.

The Board will vote on the updated health plan on January 19th and if approved, we will implement these changes on January 20th. If you cannot attend the Board meeting through Zoom or in person, you can provide your input by CLICKING HERE. As always thank you for your support and cooperation.

Sincerely,

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Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

Garnet Valley School District Proposed Health and Safety Plan 2021-22 Academic Year

Initial Effective Date: July 30, 2021, updated August 15, 2021 and January 18, 2022. 

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